Experts give testimony on EU relations to Swiss federal politicians

Swiss State Councilor and President of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Swiss Council of States Dick Marty (centre) chairs the meeting with Forum experts. To his left sits Mr. Jürgen Weiss, Vice-President of the Federal Council of the Republic of Austria, and to his right Florent Tripet, Secretary to the commission.

Experts from European federal countries provided testimony to Swiss state councillors about how their central and regional governments work with the European Union (EU) at a special hearing held by the Swiss Council of States with assistance from the Forum of Federations. The event was held at the Swiss legislature in the capital, Bern. The Swiss state councillors – representatives of the cantons in the legislature – wanted to learn from the experiences of the other European federations and to familiarize themselves with the EU perspective.

The councillors, members of the foreign affairs committee of the Swiss Council of States, heard expert testimony from representatives from the European Union, Belgium, Germany and Austria.

In addition to relations with the EU through different treaties, the experts explained how constituent units such as cantons and Länder help to shape national EU policy and legislation in Switzerland, Germany and Austria. While Switzerland is not a member of the EU, it has negotiated special treaties of co-operation with the organization that provide many benefits of EU treaties in exchange for compliance with certain EU requirements.

The hearing, held on February 21, 2008, drew on testimony from international experts Jürgen Weiss, Vice-President of the Federal Council of the republic of Austria; Jürgen Stahl, CEO of the Committee of the Regions (EU); Dr. Horst Risse, German Bundesrat, and Thierry de Laval, Representative of the Walloon Region at the European Union. The agenda and questions asked by the Swiss legislators can be found here:

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